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Supreme Court to Hear “Tax Swap” Appeal

August 19, 2008

As expected, the First District Court of Appeals has immediately certified a request by the supporters of Amendment 5 to reconsider the constitutionality of the proposed “Tax Swap” amendment.  Last week, Leon County Circuit Court Judge, John C. Cooper, ruled in favor of the opponents of Amendment 5 and knocked the amendment off the ballot calling the proposed amendment “misleading” to the public.  Associated Industries of Florida is a named party on the original lawsuit to knock the amendment off the ballot.

Amendment 5, also known as the “Tax Swap”, requires the Legislature to fully replace the portion of ad valorem taxes that make up the required local effort (RLE) to fund education with:

  • Revenues gained from the repeal of sales tax exemptions;
  • An increase in the sales tax rate of up to one percent (one cent);
  • Reductions in state spending;
  • Revenues resulting from economic growth attributable to lower property taxes; and
  • Other revenues identified or created by the Legislature.


The RLE must be replaced starting with the 2011 General Appropriations Act for property taxes assessed in 2011 and thereafter.  Amendment 5 also:

  • Places a five percent cap on the growth in assessments of non-homestead (commercial) property. This, in fact, reduces the ten percent cap enacted with the passage of Amendment 1 in January 2008;
  • Reduces the maximum ad valorem millage for school purposes from ten mills to five mills , for which voter approval is not required by the Florida Constitution; and
  • Provides that laws creating new sales tax exemptions must address only single subject-matter of a single exemption and include a legislative finding that the exemption serves a public purpose.


Below is a release from the Coalition to Protect Florida’s Economy, a diverse group of education and business groups opposing Amendment 5.


The Coalition to Protect Florida’s Economy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer J. Green

(850) 528-8809
August 19, 2008

STATE APPEALS ‘TAX SWAP’ RULING - APPEALS COURT PASSES TO HIGH COURT

Tallahassee  – In a order released this morning, First District Court of Appeals Judges Edward T. Barfield, Charles J. Kahn, Jr. and Phillip J. Padovano certified the Amendment 5 legal challenge directly to the Florida Supreme Court citing, “the issues pending in this case are of great public importance requiring immediate resolution by the Supreme Court of Florida.”

Just last week, Circuit Judge John C. Cooper ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in case #2008CA2164 to remove Amendment 5 from the November 2008 general election ballot citing that Amendment 5’s ballot title and summary were misleading to voters.  Defendants in the case had appealed the ruling to the First District Court of Appeals late Friday.  Assuming the Florida Supreme Court accepts the case, briefing and oral arguments would be scheduled shortly thereafter.

            “As we did with the Circuit Court hearing, we look forward to presenting our arguments before the Florida Supreme Court,” said Barry Richard, attorney for the Coalition to Protect Florida’s Economy.

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About the Coalition

The Coalition to Protect Florida s Economy represents a wide-range of everyday Floridians farmers, health care providers, educators, engineers, architects, agriculture, CPAs, manufacturers, printers, small businesses, large businesses and many others.  Many of these individuals took time away from their families, jobs and businesses to testify over the past year before the 2007 Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission.  This included several statewide public hearings and deliberations in Tallahassee.             

Contributors to the Coalition to Protect Florida's Economy can be found below or on the Florida Division of Elections web. Those organizations listed with an '*' are named parties in the legal challenge against Amendment 5, but may not necessarily be contributors (see below):

Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida
Association of Florida Community Developers
Associated Industries of Florida *
Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects
Florida Association of District School Superintendents*
Florida Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
Florida Association of Insurance Agents
Florida Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
Florida Association of School Administrators*
Florida Chamber of Commerce
Florida Engineering Society
Florida Farm Bureau*
Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association*
Florida Health Care Association
Florida Hospital Association
Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants*
Florida Life Care Residents Association
Florida Minerals and Chemistry Council
Florida Retail Federation
Florida School Boards Association*
Florida Trucking Association
Florida United Businesses Association
Humana, Inc.
JM Family Enterprises
Manufacturers Association of Florida
National Federation of Independent Business - Florida*
Printing Association of Florida*